Firstly I shouldn’t have read this. It is not published until the end of August so it should not have been at the top of my ‘to read’ pile. Secondly George Pelecanos is amongst my favorite writers so I literally had no choice but to pick this up the moment I got it.
It has been almost two years since I last read a Pelecanos novel and I loved being reminded why I rate him as one of my favorite writers. His writing is so distinctive and the world he immerses you in so real I am in reading nirvana when I have a Pelecanos novel.
George Pelecanos is responsible for me falling in love with crime fiction and showing me there is more to the genre than “whodunit”. I like to think he opened my eyes to “whydunit” and the whole social and political aspect to crime fiction that often gets overlooked by “literary” reviewers and prize judges. If it wasn’t for George Pelecanos I would never have discovered Laura Lippmann or Dennis Lehane (a poorer reader I’d have been). More importantly the sole reason I sat down to watch an unknown crime series in the middle of the night, starring nobody I’d heard of, without any media fanfare, was because I knew he was a writer on the show. I can’t imagine never discovering THE WIRE, a TV show I make sure I revisit at least once a year and am totally in awe of. David Simon’s genius is a blog post for another time ( you can read P.M. Newton’s, author of THE OLD SCHOOL, brilliant blog post here). But I will say if David Simon is the brains behind THE WIRE (and that is a gross understatement) then George Pelecanos is the heart. If you are a fan of THE WIRE and haven’t Pelecanos all I will say to you is Dennis ‘Cuddy’ Wise.
George Pelecanos’s last four novels have all been stand-alone novels. THE CUT heralds a new series featuring Spero Lucas; an Iraq veteran who is a special investigator for a criminal attorney. Spero’s made his sacrifices and now it’s time to live. Spero is approached by a drug dealer to retrieve some stolen merchandise. His cut, 40%; his focus relentless. Spero could easily be the anti-hero but instead he is the new breed of crime hero; apathetic but not amoral and uncommitted to either side of the law so can walk both sides with ease and deal with the good and bad on both sides of the law. He has a code and you best not mess with it.
Television writing has not distracted Pelecanos from his novel-writing it has enhanced it and THE CUT is up there with his finest work. Pelecanos’s has built on his classic characters, Derek Strange and Nick Stefanos, to create his best to date. Another amazing novel from a consistently amazing writer.